White House-Pentagon emails show Trump’s claim that he called all Gold Star families was misleading



Donald Trump
Donald Trump.
Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

  • President Trump said he called the families of
    “virtually” every servicemember killed in action since his
  • Emails obtained by Roll Call tell a different


When President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he had contacted the families
of “virtually everybody”
who had been killed in the military
since he took office, the White House did not even have an
updated list of those who had died in action, according to an
internal Department of Defense email obtained by Roll

After Trump made the comment on Fox News Radio, White House
advisers reportedly rushed to reach out to the Pentagon for a
list of all the servicemembers who had died and the contact
information for their families.  

According to Roll Call, the White House sent an email with the
subject line, “Condolence Letters Since 20 January 2017” to
the Defense secretary’s office on the evening of the day
Trump said he had reached out to all the families of
soldiers who had been killed. 

In return, Capt. Hallock Mohler, Defense Secretary James Mattis’
executive secretary, replied to the White House with an
email that included information about how each servicemember had
died and their family’s contact information, according to the

Mohler’s email also said that the president’s aides had “reached
out to Ylber [Bajraktari, a National Security Council aide]
looking for the following ASAP from DOD.” 

Trump’s contact with Gold Star families came under fire this
week, after The Associated Press reached out to
43 families and got responses from 20, nine of whom said
they had heard from Trump and nine of whom said they had not,
despite his remark that he had called the families
of “virtually everybody” who had died in the line of

The president also invited scrutiny over a phone call he made to a
grieving widow
whose husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was one
of the four troops killed during a mission in Niger. 

Frederica Wilson red
Frederica Wilson has made a name for herself as a spirited
opponent of Donald Trump.


Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who was present during
the phone call, told the Miami
ABC affiliate WPLG
 on Tuesday that Trump
had told Myeshia Johnson her husband
“knew what he signed up
for, but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

Wilson said she was riding in the car with Johnson — who was on
her way to the airport to receive her husband’s body — when Trump
called. She then told MSNBC on Wednesday morning that the
soldier’s widow was “crying the whole time” and that when she
hung up the phone, she looked at Wilson and said, “He didn’t even
remember his name.” 

Though Trump blasted Wilson’s account as “totally fabricated,”
the soldier’s mother confirmed to The Washington Post that
the congresswoman’s account was accurate, adding that Trump had
“disrespected” her family. 

As the controversy continued to unfold, Gold Star families
came out en masse
to dispute the president’s claims. That included Chris Baldridge,
whose son, Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge, died in Afghanistan
in June. Baldridge told The Post that
Trump had offered him a $25,000 check
, but did not follow

“I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had
it recorded because the man did say this,” Baldridge said. “He
said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but
he said, ‘I’m going to do it.'”

After The Post’s story was published, a White House
spokeswoman told the newspaper that the check had been sent, and
CNN reported
that it had been sent on the same day The Post’s story went

Allan Smith contributed reporting. 


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